The Center for Social Development (CSD) released a working paper that explores the extent to which the Housing Choice Voucher program affects the economic and racial segregation of voucher holders. The authors, Molly Metzger and Danilo Pelletiere, found that voucher recipients appear to be more likely to live in higher-income neighborhoods than comparable populations, but they are not more likely to live in more racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods.
The authors analyzed the residential patterns of all voucher households and minority voucher households across 50 metropolitan statistical areas. They also looked at four comparison groups: all households earning less than $15,000 annually, extremely low income (ELI) renters (renters that earn 30% or less of the area median income), cost-burdened ELI renters (ELI renters spending more than 30% of monthly income on housing), and minority ELI renters. The authors used 2007-2011 Five-Year CHAS data, 2007-2011 American Community Survey data, and 2013 Picture of Subsidized Housing data.
Metzger and Pelletiere found that, compared to all ELI renters, the voucher program does not appear to have a positive or negative impact on moving voucher holders into higher income neighborhoods. However, compared to ELI renters with cost burden, who are more likely to need assistance than the general ELI population, voucher holders are more likely to live in higher income neighborhoods as well as economically more diverse neighborhoods.
Voucher holders remain concentrated in communities with a higher minority population than ELI renter comparison groups. Compared to households earning less than $15,000 annually, voucher holders are more likely to be both economically and racially segregated.
The analysis also examined racial and economic segregation experienced by minority voucher holders. Both minority voucher holders and minority ELI renter households rarely lived in higher income neighborhoods. However, the data suggest that minority voucher households do move to higher income but still racially segregated communities.
The authors also explored the impact of Source of Income (SOI) protection laws on segregation. SOI laws prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to a household based on the type of income they have to pay the rent, such as a voucher, Supplemental Security Income, or TANF. The results were not statistically significant.
There remains a need to further study additional factors that may be contributing to persistent racial segregation.
The article, Patterns of Housing Voucher Use Revisited: Segregation and Section 8 Using Updated Data and More Precise Comparison Groups, is at http://csd.wustl.edu/Publications/Documents/WP15-22.pdf